Airlines from India to soon resume their ops to Africa: Sharma
Oct 01 2013 , Johannesburg
Air connectivity and visa related issues were the two major matters which were discussed in the 2nd India-Africa Business Council (IABC) meeting here. It was co-chaired by Bharti group Chairman Sunil Mittal. Ficci is the institutional partner for this meeting.
"I can assure you that you will see again the resumption of flights to Africa by the Indian carriers, private also. We have identified. Jet was flying until recently to South Africa. Air India will also resume flying to Africa in 2014. This has been communicated to me," Sharma told reporters here.
Sharma, who is here for the third India-Africa Trade Ministers meeting, said that businessmen will travel only when there will be a better air connectivity.
"We have been engaged at the highest level, at the level of the Prime Minister," he added.
On liberalisation of visa regime, Sharma said that both the sides can identify the apex industry chambers that can help in this process.
"India has an arrangement with many of its partner countries for long term business visas which are given as part of the understanding for example we have CII and Ficci. The partner or concerned country can also identify the apex national chambers…once they are endorsed by the chambers, the embassy or the high commission of the concerned nation can give the visas," he said.
"Similarly, the apex national chambers in Africa can give recommendation to the Indian high commission and on reciprocal terms, we will immediately grant long term business visas," Sharma added.
On these two issues, Mittal said that he has discussed the matter with African businessmen. He has invested about USD 13 billion in telecom sector in Africa in about 17 countries.
On visas, Mittal said that governments of India and African nations should extend support on the matter to smoothen the movement of professionals. He proposed to provide visa-on-arrival to businessmen of both the sides.
"I do not see any reason why visa on arrival cannot be given. Long term multiple entry visas and business visas can be given. It becomes extremely difficult if the visas are given for 2-3 months at a time. Regular business visitors and officers of the companies they have to exhaust their passports...
"I think this is a huge issue and it can be resolved if our recommendations can be given to external affairs ministry of all the countries here…priority can be accorded to business visas for those who want to do business in Africa and I am sure India will do the same," Mittal said.